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A new report outlines some key desires and inclinations of the emergent Gen Z as they enter the workforce en masse around the world.

The report, titled “Gen Z and the Gig Economy: It’s Time to Gig in or Get Out” notes that 53% of Gen Z said they would pass up a traditional job for full-time gig work, with 55% citing flexible schedules and 53% noting greater independence (e.g. being their own boss) as important considerations.

However, they were hesitant to fully commit themselves to the gig economy due to benefits associated with more traditional jobs. These included stability (47%) and predictable pay (46%).

So, while it’s not an overwhelming majority, we can see that most Gen Z members are willing to embrace the gig economy. And those who prefer traditional roles may soon find they’re harder to come by…

Automation and AI are changing the rules of talent engagement

Erik Brynjolfsson, co-author of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, argues the exponential, not linear, growth of technological capability in the next 10-20 years will refashion our economy.

Productivity and wealth will grow but there will be an elimination of enough jobs that our economy will likely struggle to support a healthy middle-class.

This could mean serious changes for the working life of Gen Z members. Their futures could involve some non-trivial amount of gig work as a standard element of their overall incomes. This could be true even if we end up with some version of a universal basic income.

Here’s where we have to surface that old adage:

Most of the smartest people work for someone else.

But they don’t have to.

Not anymore.

Brands take notice! There’s a wealth of talent out there waiting for you.

There is now a critical mass of Gen Z gig-focused consumers looking for alternative career options.

What’s more: in 2019 brands have no barriers in connecting with them.

None.

In fact, there is no valid reason why every brand doesn’t have an on-demand community of brand fans creating value – in a digital channel they control.

But brands have to make overtures to these talented consumers if they want to work with them. They have to make it worth their while. The jobs need to go beyond disrupting the taxi industry, delivering food and doing odd jobs.

To truly tap into this huge latent talent asset, brands need to create the conditions so that highly talented, gig-focused workers can partner with them and get real value in return for providing the same.

The evolution of the gig economy could play a key role in that, depending on exactly how it unfolds over the next few years.

The big questions that linger as we look forward

What happens when the first innovative global enterprise finds a way to deeply and comprehensively tap the scalable mass of talent out there? What does that mean for its bottom line?

What happens if a few brands partner together and provide some version of the stability and benefits that gig workers are seeking? How big a talent acquisition advantage would that provide? What would that do for their innovation efforts? What would that do for brand loyalty?

And what happens to the big brands that keep making excuses, that don’t build those consumer and worker connections, that miss out on accessible talent and all it can do for them? Do they get taken down by challenger brands in a dramatic swoop? Or do they just quietly fade away into irrelevance, a casualty of an era when everything changed, and they didn’t?

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